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Energy and human rights

Is it possible to have an ethical foreign policy?

Not if we rely on fossil fuels because countries providing the energy we need call the shots, and we have no leverage over them. Energy security is something all citizens in developed countries expect their governments to provide and securing reliable energy supplies will need to be an increasingly important part of European and foreign policy. Politicians pay a price at the ballot box for not delivering cheap, reliable energy to their voters and so they can't allow externalities like human rights to get in the way of making energy deals.

If we continue to rely on fossil fuels for our energy then we are not in a position to criticise, or insist human rights are not abused in undemocratic countries that supply our energy.

It would be nice to be able to develop an ethical foreign policy i.e. one based on what is right, rather than one based on dependence, like a drug user, where we must keep our energy ‘dealer’ sweet. It would be nice to have an energy policy that gives us a voice in tackling oppressive, violent regimes.

This ethical argument is one that is rarely used when alternative energy is being espoused. It's an argument that needs to be made, for there is a price to pay for any energy use: it's a pity if that price is paid by citizens in fossil fuel rich, but human rights poor, countries.

This is just one of the stories from my energy talk

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